Thursday, April 16, 2009

Naive Realism and why your dog might not like icecream

So I found this interesting paper titled Naive Realism That is hosted on Stanford's Law website found here.

It discusses the interesting and relevant phenom of so called 'Naive Realism' or to put concisely our presumption that
'we see the world as it REALLY is',
'that other rational, reasonable people will share both my experiences and responses',
'that if an individual does not share my views that he/she (a) has been exposed to different information than I have (b) is lazy, dumb, irrational, or unwilling to process my rational and objective evidence and arguments (c) is biased by self interest or ideology'.

This paper uses the term construal exclusively but I personally might use the term 'frame of reference' instead.

This assertion that as humans we have a strong tendency towards 'naive realism' seems a bit obvious if you consider how many times you have argued with a friend or otherwise intelligent person, yet they seem to be ignoring the objective facts you are presenting. The first thought is that facts alone do not stand by themselves... this is true for science and this is true for advertising... in an ideal world this would work, but even in an ideal world... if you throw in the idea that perception is relative... even that breaks the bank.

This of course poses some interesting problems in our social world as well as in political and negotiation scenarios. An interesting finding from cognitive science has been that when you have a entrenched position, your brain actually 'automagically' discounts information that is not congruent with your entrenched position. Aka... your brain basically filters it out for you. This phenom is not discussed in the paper but I learned of it in a class I took on Consumer Behavior... or... how to sell people Dog Ice cream =) A hilarious tidbit from the paper is the fact that, given the same set of 'neutral' information, partisan sides will absorb this information and increase the polarization. Again facts do not stand on their own.

This all probably seems terribly obvious to a lot of you, but I thought I would share since it's articulated pretty well in this paper.

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